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Malvi: local chef recreates the s'more



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The Malvi in hibiscus flavor and chocolate (click for larger version)

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Laura Curtis and Paris Retana have created a new product and plan to open a bakery soon. (click for larger version)

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(click for larger version)
September 08, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. — Malvis come in different flavors: chocolate, vanilla, espresso and …hibiscus?

Created by local chef Laura Curtis, the Malvi aims to redefine the marshmallow sandwich and gives a new take on the s'more.

Curtis, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and research and development chef for a large supermarket chain, was playing around in the test kitchen with new recipe ideas.

"I was trying to come up with a two-bite dessert that I could share with people and I was playing around with hibiscus," Curtis said.

Curtis had been making marshmallows and liked the idea of infusing the hibiscus into the marshmallow. This gave it a bright magenta color, she said. She then sandwiched the marshmallow between petit beurre (literally little butter) cookies and voila — the Malvi was born.

"We loved it; we thought it was great," Curtis said. "I would call it a portable s'mores, or s'mores without the campfire."

As far as ingredients, Curtis said she uses the best she can find, including Taza chocolate, a Mexican-style organic dark chocolate shipped from Massachusetts, along with Kosher gelatin and freshly dried hibiscus. They brew their own espresso and infuse the marshmallow with whole vanilla beans.

"We are proud of what we put in the Malvis," Curtis said. "We also offer gluten-free cookies."

After she moved to Cumming with her fiancé and business partner Paris Retana, she kept tinkering with the recipe and put it up on Kickstarter, a website to raise money via crowd funding.

In April, she had asked backers on the site for $7,500 to help fund a new industrial oven and mixer. A month later, 420 backers gave $13,110.

Because they got almost double the money they had asked for, they were able to purchase key equipment, including a pastry cutter to get different sizes on the marshmallow and another cutter for the cookies.

"The response was really great," she said. "It's so fun for me and it really connects with people. It's something nostalgic, but also something really new."

As part of the funding process, Curtis and Retana have been making Malvis and shipping them to everyone who pledged.

"We just finished the final shipment," Curtis said.

The orders were divided into two shipping dates, one in July and the final shipment was sent earlier this month.

They are now a finalist in an entrepreneur grant of $25,000 with Alpharetta-based Credo Financial Services. They hope the grant will get their small business off the ground.

In the meantime, people can stop by Mestizo Southwest Grill, 3050 Keith Bridge Road in north Forsyth County, where different flavors are for sale ($1). To order Malvis for celebrations, parties and other occasions, visit their website at https://www.squareup.com/market/malvi and find them on www.Facebook.com/MalviJoy.

"We would love to get a bakery space to make Malvis," Curtis said. "We look forward to our next step."

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